The 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, saw the inaugural field hockey competition in which the Australian men’s team won the gold medal, 20 years later and they are yet to come away with anything less than the coveted first place prize.
In April Australia’s men’s team, the Kookaburras, will be competing in their home country for a sixth consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal, a historic feat if the team can achieve it.
The Kookaburras enter the Gold Coast based Commonwealth Games as the number one ranked side in the world after a dominant performance at the Hockey World League Final in 2017 and their expectations are set high.
The team has changed a lot over the last 20 years and we’ve seen the roster and staff turnover a number of times. But one thing remains true, Australia’s men’s team has always performed well at the Commonwealth Games.
In fact, the Kookaburras have only ever lost one single game in the Commonwealth Games, their record currently sits at 29-1 with five of five gold medals.
The Kookaburras first Commonwealth Games appearance in 1998 was a dominant one. The squad, led by Coach Terry Walsh, allowed only five goals whilst scoring 27 of their own.
Michael Brennan was the Kookaburras leading goal scorer for the 1998 Commonwealth Games with seven goals including two in the gold medal match against home side Malaysia.
Interestingly this was current Hockeyroos Coach Paul Gaudoin’s first Commonwealth Games appearance, 2018 will be his fifth (two as player, three as coach).
The Kookaburras only ever defeat in the Commonwealth Games came in 1998 against South Africa.
The second time hockey was run in the Commonwealth Games, Australia faced off against a number of strong opponents including home side England and rivals New Zealand.
Led by Coach Barry Dancer, the Kookaburras allowed just six goals in 2002 and scored 38 of their own, 20 of which came from their match against Barbados. The one sided affair saw four Australian players notch up hat tricks including hockey legend Jamie Dwyer.
Dwyer scored his second hat trick in the Kookaburras 5-2 gold medal match victory against New Zealand.
The 2006 Commonwealth Games provided the Kookaburras with their first opportunity to compete in the Games in front of a home crowd.
In Barry Dancer’s second Commonwealth Games as Coach, the Kookaburras focused heavily on strong defence and lightning fast scoring.
The game plan was clearly a winner as the Kookaburras once again finished the tournament undefeated.
Australia defeated Scotland, Canada, England, New Zealand and Malaysia on their way to a 3-0 victory over Pakistan in the gold medal match.
Brent Livermore and Victorian Luke Doerner were Australia’s top goal scorers with five goals apiece.
Even after a number of personnel changes from 2006 to 2010, Australia entered the New Delhi Games as heavy favourites and for good reason.
2010 saw Coach Ric Charlesworth and many of Australia’s current squad compete in their first Commonwealth Games and it was quickly apparent that they were a special team.
The Kookaburras set the tone for 2010 when they blitzed Scotland 9-0 in their first match. The Aussies subsequently defeated India, Pakistan, Malaysia and New Zealand, allowing just four goals in the process.
When it came to the gold medal match Australia went unchallenged, defeating India 8-0. Jason Wilson, Chris Ciriello, Luke Doerner, Simon Orchard, Glenn Turner and Jamie Dwyer all found the back of the net in the final match.
The Games in Glasgow saw a historic performance by the Australian team, for the fourth year in a row they went undefeated through the tournament and secured a fifth consecutive gold medal.
Under their new coach Graham Reid (previously Assistant Coach under Charlesworth) the Kookaburras were once again a dominant attacking team.
Led largely by Chris Ciriello who scored in every match and finished as the tournament’s top goal scorer with nine goals, the Kookaburras crushed Wales, South Africa, India, Scotland and England prior to their gold medal rematch against India.
Australia took on India in the gold medal rematch and were once again favourites. The game saw the same result as in 2010 and Australia comfortably took home the top prize defeating India 4-0.
Eddie Ockenden scored a late goal while Chris Ciriello scored a hat trick making him Australia’s highest total Commonwealth Games goal scorer.
Australia enters their second Australian based Commonwealth Games ranked number one in the world after a successful World League campaign in 2017.
The team will be looking for their sixth consecutive gold medal and expectations are high.